In my previous post I wrote about letting anger go and allowing the pain to heal. So, in this post I will get into HOW the pain heals. Well, I can’t speak for others but I can tell you how I have learned to heal my emotional pain (most of the time). It’s all about intention, baby.
For the majority of my life, I didn’t even know about intention. I didn’t stop and ask myself “Did he/she intend to hurt me?” If I was hurt, that is all I knew and cared about. I didn’t sit there and analyze why I was hurt or if the other person had purposely tried to hurt me. Now, though, when someone says something that hurts my feelings, I think about the intention behind the upsetting comment/action. And that is how I help heal my pain. Because once I realize that it was not intentional, then I am able to let it go and move on. I’m not saying it’s always easy and that it happens overnight. It takes patience, time, and practice…a lot of practice and a lot of self-talk reminders.
In my last post I wrote that anger = pain. Well, I also realize that if I am angry (i.e. in pain) then that means that the other person (e.g. my dad) who is living in anger is also experiencing pain. It helps me to humanize the “enemy”. I try to think of them as someone who is not just out to get me or to hurt me intentionally but rather as a fellow human being trying to navigate through this journey of life. This doesn’t mean that I’m immune to pain or to hurt now. I still get butt-hurt and pissed off when someone hits a nerve or offends me but I have an easier time forgiving and letting go if I look at their intentions. My internal conversations go like this: “@$%@! I am so $#%&’ing angry and hurt! OK, but remember it wasn’t their intention to hurt you with that comment. They only said it out of ignorance or out of their own pain. But still I’m $#!%’ing pissed! Eff that! <deep breath> It’s ok, let it go. They did not set out to intentionally hurt you and that is what matters. @#$%! This shit is hard.”
The hardest part of all for me though is not hurting back. It’s in my defensive nature to attack and hurt the person who has hurt me. I think that’s probably a lot of people’s instincts. We want to be the bigger bad-ass and walk away with having had the greater dig. But think about it…how does that help heal us from the pain we are experiencing? It doesn’t. All it does is make the anger grow. Anger fuels more anger.
(A side note about the previous post: I tried to remember for over a week before I published the post if Felicia came with us to Buenos Aires or not during that trip in June 1987. I have absolutely nothing written about her being there with us during my entire trip – and I wrote in my journal nearly everyday for those 6+ weeks, but now I am near certain she WAS there with us. I remember that my dad stayed in a hotel downtown far away from my aunt’s house where I stayed. The only reason he would have done that is if Felicia was with him. Anyway, that is why it felt like she was far away and I didn’t have any drama with my dad. I hardly saw them during my whole vacation.)
When I got home from the airport, I called Maggie, Jessica and Sara. I also called one of my cousins who informed me that I had a job waiting for me at a family friend’s new boutique! My prayers were answered! I was so excited! The next day, I drove my cousin to work so I could talk to my boss/family friend and learn more about my new job. Four days after arriving home, I worked my first day at a plus-size women’s clothing store in Los Alamitos. I felt like things were already looking up for my new plans!
|August 1987 - Soon after I arrived back|
from Buenos Aires. Taking pics to send to Robbie
(Why oh why did I perm my BANGS?)
I was sad to be leaving my friends at school although Maggie and Sara were also leaving Connelly each for their own reasons, but I was leaving Jessica behind and that was going to be so very hard. I was going to go to public school for the first time since Kindergarten! I knew my Motorhome/Accordion/Holly Hobbie past was far behind me but I was still nervous about going to public school. It helped greatly that I would be attending with two of my cousins and their friends whom I knew too, but still I had no idea how I was going to handle picking out a new outfit everyday! For 11 years all I had ever worn were uniforms! I think that was my biggest source of worry about public school, believe it or not. But I guess for 17-year-old me it was kind of a big deal.
|1987 - Senior Portrait|
Aside from the fact that I was going to public school for the first time since Kindergarten, I was also going to school with BOYS for the first time since 8th grade! That was something I really wasn’t prepared for. Wow. What a drastic change. I was suddenly able to check out guys every single day! What?! It felt unreal to have boys in all of my classes! I quickly made my mental lists of the cute ones, the taken ones, the funny ones, the perverted ones, the nerdy ones, the popular ones, the heshens, the jocks, the freaks, and on and on.
I have to say it was a fun school year. I developed a crush on a Senior who was in a photography class across from my English class. I thought he looked like Jesse from that new TV show, Full House. I would only see him once a day but <sigh> he was dreamy. (Hey, I may have had a boyfriend but I also had hormones!) Then there was the hot Italian exchange student in my French class who was so funny and reminded me of “my people” (Argentineans). Did I mention he was a hot Italian exchange student? How cliché can you get? Did I mention he and I became friends and he came to my house to make my cousins and me spaghetti one night? Ya, see what I mean about the fun school year? There was also the little twerp in my P.E. class who for reasons I can’t remember hated me as much as I hated him. One day when I had had enough of his obnoxious remarks, I pushed him up against the vending machines and held him by the shirt. (A. That tells you how little he was. B. I had watched too many movies.) I’m pretty sure that was the last time he bothered me. You see, I had all that pent up rage and it had to come out somewhere, so Dickhead became one of my victims. Plus, I had had my fair share of bullying in elementary school and I wasn’t about to put up with it in High School.
I guess you could say that during my Senior year I became a bad-ass. The anger and rage were making near-daily appearances and coming out in unexpected places like CVS Drug Store, Taco Bell, and Bank of America. If you pissed me off or looked at me funny, watch out. I was bound to go off on you, demand to see the manager, and make a big scene. I mostly saved my angry, indignant outbursts for strangers. I didn’t really have confrontations with friends or loved ones – except my dad. I wish I could remember specifics or that I had written about my exact fights with my dad and what they were about. I only have written that they revolved around his “social life” and that meant the pitiful excuse of a woman that he was with.
|1987 - At work on Halloween|
I am not suggesting my boss was a dog.
This is solely for her privacy.
One day, I was setting up a display in our front window and a few guys walked by. One of them was cute and he waved at me. I smiled and waved back. Next thing I knew, he was coming by regularly to say hi and talk to me. And then he was calling me at home. And then I was giving him rides home after work. And eventually, he was telling me how much he liked me and how he wished I didn’t have a boyfriend. Because everyone I would meet, I would tell them that I was fully devoted to Robbie, writing him multiple letters weekly, making plans to see him in December, and dreaming of being with him permanently in June 1988. So, Jay (his real name because, c’mon, what are the chances he or anyone he knows will read this) was aware of my “taken” status but that didn’t stop him from hoping that things could change. One day, when I dropped him off at his house, he leaned in for a kiss and I obliged. I didn’t want to be rude! And besides, Robbie was the only guy I had ever kissed. I would be lying if I said I didn’t wonder what it would be like to kiss another boy. Immediately though I knew I had made a terrible mistake and I regretted it. I’m pretty sure that after that I told Jay to take a hike and I don’t think we saw each other again. Or we might have had one more kiss on a different day and THEN that was it. Two kisses tops! Shit, it’s been 27 years. I don’t remember. (SPOILER ALERT: Robbie found out about Jay and made me tear out those pages out of my journal so that is why I don’t remember! All written history of Jay is gone!)
In early December, I quit my job (which by then I had grown to hate) so that I could make my much awaited trip back to Buenos Aires! I think I saved up about $600 if I remember correctly and gave it all to my dad. He paid the remainder of my ticket which back then probably wasn’t too much more. If you remember from my last post, our deal had been that he would help me pay for a ticket to Argentina ($700 or 800? I’m guessing.) if I gave up going to Connelly ($5000). Well, I think I got the short end of the deal. But I didn’t care at the time. All I cared about was that I was going to be back in Robbie’s arms! Despite my kissing escapades and wandering eye, I had still been a loyal letter-writer and daydreamer of all things Robbie. My plans to marry him and be with him forever were still strong. Aside from being in love, I also felt Robbie was my way out of my misery and loneliness. I would have a partner in life like everyone else in my family did (my dad, my brother, and my sister) and I would no longer be on my own. I would have someone who would put me first and make me their priority, just like my mom had done all my life. Because at the time I didn’t feel like I was anyone’s priority, especially my dad’s.
When I try to remember what my dad was like back then, it’s like he was a stranger. We were father and daughter but it feels like our previous 16 years were erased the moment my mom died and he stepped into a new role with me. He was someone I was very scared of pissing off. I think that was always the case with him and me, but it got much worse after my mom died because I no longer had her as the buffer.
It took a very long time for that fear I had of upsetting him to dissipate. I’m sure it’s due in part to how traumatic the arguments were (so traumatic that I don’t remember them) and how much emotional pain they caused me. Sometimes the fear is still there. I still dread it if I feel an argument coming on with him (which we do have from time to time). But afterward, instead of just feeling angry and hurt, I remind myself to think of him as a human being, not just as my dad. I think of myself as a mother who has made mistakes and has had parenting regrets. I ask myself what may have caused him to react? What is it in his life that needs healing? What is his own anger and emotional pain about? And most importantly, I pay attention to the intention!